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Scouting Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton

The Broncos second-round pick has tons of upside.

NCAA Football: SMU at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos selected former SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton in the second-round(pick 40) of the 2018 NFL Draft. Sutton is a 6’3”, 218lb wide receiver who was considered one of the top receivers in the entire draft. Sutton was ranked as the third-best wide receiver in the entire 2018 NFL Draft according to NFLDraftScout.com and considered the 31st best player in the entire draft.

Sutton’s awards and recognitions include being named SB Nation All-America Honorable Mention, All-American Athletic Conference selection, a first-team All-American (CFN, CBS Sports) and Second-Team All-American (AP, USA Today). He was named to the Biletnikoff Preseason Watch List, named a preseason first-team All-American, All-AAC offensive and Top 30 AAC (No. 3) Player by College Football News, a second-team preseason All-American, All-AAC first team and Group of 5 wild card player by Athlon Sports. He was also selected No. 18 on SI College Football’s Freaks List and No. 28 on its Top 100 Players of 2017 preseason list... Selected as the No. 11 player on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 50 Most Import College Football Players in Texas preseason list and was ranked No. 1 in College Football 24/7 Top Wide Receivers to Watch in 2017 list.

He played four seasons at SMU and put up some impressive numbers during that time. During that four-year span, he totaled 195 receptions for 3,220 yards and 31 touchdowns. This past season, Sutton totaled 68 receptions for 1,085 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Courtland Sutton, Junior, SMU

Height: 6’3” Weight: 218lbs 40-time: 4.54 seconds

Arm Length: 32 3/8” Hands: 9 3/4”

Bench Press: 18 reps Vertical: 35.5 inches Broad Jump: 124.0 inches

3-Cone Drill: 6.57 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.11 seconds

60-Yard Shuttle: 11.06 seconds

Film Room:

Scouting Report:

Strengths

  • Big and tall with an athletic/muscular frame
  • Smooth athlete with top-notch body control
  • Positions himself well to make an easy play on the ball
  • Uses his size and strength to body corners and keep them from making a play on the ball
  • Has a wide catch radius which is beneficial for the quarterback
  • Not afraid of going across the middle and making plays
  • Speed and quickness are questions but ran an elite 3-Cone Drill time(6.57 seconds) at the Combine
  • Will go up and get the ball
  • Made some crazy one-handed catches
  • Best blocking receiver in the draft
  • Has a basketball background and it shows with how he plays
  • Has WR1 potential
  • Coaches loved him at SMU and his work ethic is praised

Weaknesses

  • While he is athletic, he lacks that explosive/quick trait twitch you look for
  • Lacks a second gear
  • His ability to consistently separate is something that needs to be watched
  • Needs to do better against press coverage
  • Doesn’t run the smoothest routes
  • Limited route tree

Quotables:

NFL Network’s draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah on Sutton who he had ranked as his 48th overall prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sutton is a big, physical wideout. He primarily lines up outside, but he does take some reps in the slot. He uses his upper-body strength to defeat press coverage, although he lacks ideal suddenness in his release. As a route runner, he’s a long strider who struggles to generate much separation. He makes a ton of plays with defenders draped all over him. He has an enormous catch radius and his ability to high-point the ball is special (see one-handed grab vs. Tulsa). After the catch, he lacks burst and wiggle, but he will power through tacklers. Overall, Sutton lacks ideal explosiveness and route-running polish, but his combination of size, strength and ball skills is tough to defend against.

NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler on Sutton who he had ranked as his 37th overall prospect.

SUMMARY: A three-year starter at SMU, Sutton lined up as the “X” boundary receiver in SMU’s spread offense and was used all over the formation, including the slot. The Mustangs ran a screen-heavy offense for the receivers with plenty of one-route plays and he faces a substantial adjustment with a pro-style playbook. Sutton is still growing into the position with rudimentary releases and routes, but he is a gliding athlete with the body control and footwork of a much smaller receiver. While his lack of separation leads to crowded catch situations, he wins 50-50 balls with his frame and confidence. Overall, Sutton lacks seasoning and will likely never be a receiver who can uncover at will, but his fluid athleticism and competitive ball skills project him similar to Alshon Jeffery, except Sutton has much more reliable character entering the NFL.

Courtland Sutton’s spider graph:

How does Courtland Sutton fit with the Broncos?

If everything goes as planned, Sutton is the eventual replacement for the veteran wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas. He will likely be facing a pay-cut or be cut scenario after this season, so having an eventual replacement in place makes sense.

Sutton is a player I didn’t really consider much leading up to the draft because he was expected to be a first-round pick. After the Cowboys let Dez Bryant go, many considered Sutton a lock there, but they went in another direction. He fell to the 40th overall pick and the Broncos were able to get a good value pick here and some who can potentially be a number one receiver for them in the future.

Sutton is a raw receiver who needs some refinement, specifically in the route running department. However, his work ethic has been praised by many, including by his SMU coaches, so he should figure it out. One NFC regional scout also feels the same way about Sutton.

“He’s got to get quicker and learn to separate or he’s going to be wearing coverage around the field. He’s very mentally and physically tough so I think he’ll get it figured out.” -- NFC team regional scout

His role during his rookie year will be interesting. If he has a solid camp and preseason, he could earn playing time in three-receiver sets. Quarterback Case Keenum threw a lot of 50/50 balls in Minnesota and Sutton is someone who should be able to win a good number of those throughout his career.

Now, I rarely make player comps publicly, but I feel strongly about this one. Courtland Sutton is Alshon Jeffrey 2.0. They both had similar weaknesses and win in the same way. If Sutton turns into Jeffrey, the Broncos got themselves a good one.